Monday 2 September 2019

The Truth about Beta reading - it's FREE!

As a writer we need all the help we can get, and if you are an a self-published author you need it to be as cost effective as possible, and this is where Beta readers come in.

For a long time beta readers have been helpful readers and writers in the writing community who help other authors by reading through a finished draft of their book. They give them crucial feedback about how they, as a reader, received it.

Some people might give more detailed feedback than others, but the prime thing about them is that they are FREE!

Now over the last couple of years, with the increase of self-published writers, a great many of the things that authors used to be able to get for free are now being sold, and it has come to my attention that that includes Beta reading.

But this is simply not right.

Even Wikipedia tells us this:

Note the words 'unpaid' and 'not a professional'.

Despite this, freelance work places like Fiverr & Upwork are full of people offering this service for a fee, and I even had a so-called professional editor tell me it was a service offered by many and normal to charge for it when I warned another writer on twitter not to pay for it.

I say so-called because if they were a good editor they would know the meaning of the term and not use it as such. The correct term for this is Critiquing if you are asking for payment - plenty of editors use that term.

Yes, it irks me, and it irks me badly! I'm seeing lots of struggling new writers using the #WritingCommunity hashtag asking for betas and getting these 'professionals' responding asking for money. And being new they aren't aware that they can get this service for free!

So how do you get free beta readers?

On twitter you send a tweet out out using #betareader asking for them, giving what genre your book is, and you engage with them. (also use the #WritingCommunity hashtag so that people can boost your request).

You can also ask fellow writers, either ones that you know or strangers - sounds daunting asking someone you don't know, but it is good to get a fresh set of eyes on it.

I've used a mixture of both. On my latest book I used two lots of four - meaning four people read it, gave me feedback, I redrafted and then got another four people (a couple the same, but two new people) to read it for me again.

I then sought professional proofreaders (two) to go through it with a fine tooth comb.

Just remember, if they ask for money, decline!

And if you want more detailed information about Beta readers and what to look for and how to go about it, don't miss this article from fellow author Nat Russo: 4 Things Writers Should Know about Beta Readers. 

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